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After her initial shocked look, my mother did not scream, cry, faint, or do anything else that I might have expected. Instead she sat there for a few minutes, a bemused smile slowly emerging from her mouth. I took another drag, centering the cigar in my teeth, and tried to imagine what would be coming next.
“Really Joanne . . . cigars? You want to smoke cigars!?”
She then started to laugh. This was not at all what I had expected, but I thought this might be a good omen.
“And what brought this on, honey?”
“Well, Mom . . . it is my birthday, and I am of legal age. I just wanted to do something daring and out of character.”
“I see. And smoking a cigar is certainly daring and certainly out of character for you. I might have expected this from Jenny, but you?” She started laughing again.
The cigar was about finished, so I went into the parlor to find an ashtray. I sat the cigar in the ashtray, allowing it to go out. I then returned to the living room to rejoin my mother. I sat on the chair across from her and she asked me “Is this a habit you plan to continue with or is it just for the special occasion of your birthday?”
“Well Mom, it started as a lark. But when I tried the cigars, I knew that I really wanted to keep smoking them. I feel like it’s already a part of who I am. I actually love it.”
“Cigars? As in plural?”
“Yeah, Mom, I tried another one first at the shop, but then I tried the one that the cigar lady had, and I liked it even better. Those are the ones I bought. Padron. And walking home, it was weird. I noticed that lots of people were kind of staring at me without trying to be obvious. And, I have to admit, I felt like the attention made me feel like I had never felt before, a feeling of . . . well . . .”
“Power?” Mom finished my thought.
“Well, kind of. Yes, power. But something more. I felt sexy and special and confident. And . . .”
“I understand Joanne. And I think that if this is something that will help you come out of your shell, I will have no objection. I’ve seen pictures of famous women with cigars, and it doesn’t seem to detract from their femininity. I don’t know what your father will say, but I am giving you permission to smoke cigars. As an adult, it is your choice. And I am truly glad that it’s not cigarettes that you’re taking up. They would ruin your health.”
“I want to smoke in the house too casino oyna Mom. If Jenny can smoke her cigarettes at home, I should be able to smoke my cigars here too.”
Jenny, my younger sister, had been smoking since she was fourteen. At sixteen, Mom and Dad finally gave up and gave her permission to smoke at home. Jenny is everything I am not, and she was never shy about doing anything that popped into her mind. She is very attractive, and it comes from the inside as well as the outside. Her confidence and outgoing personality make her a magnet for the guys. And I always noticed that when she smokes, she does so in a way that is quite sexy to watch. I know it and so, I always thought, do the guys.
“To tell the truth, Joanne, I love the smell of cigars, so I have no objection to your smoking in the house. As you are well aware, your grandfather smoked them his entire life, so the smell brings back happy feelings for me. It will come as a shock to most of our friends and relatives though. It is still not common around here to see girls with cigars.”
“Mom, I love you!”
“By the way, dear, don’t forget that your father and I have plans to take you out for a birthday dinner tonight. Luckily for you, La Trattoria still allows smoking in half of the restaurant, so you can have another cigar, if you so desire, after dinner. If I had known about your new predilection, I would have procured something special for you.
“Mom, you’re the absolute greatest. These cigars are special enough for me, but feel free to cop me a Cuban if you ever get the chance. It would be worth a try.”
Mom laughed again. “My cigar smoking daughter. Who would have thought?”
* * *
Things didn’t go quite as well with Dad. When he got home, he immediately noticed that someone had been smoking a cigar and inquired about it.
“It was me Dad. I smoke cigars now.”
“Right, Joanne, he snickered. “Really who was visiting”
Dad, it was me. Wait here if you don’t believe me.”
I went back to the parlor, where I had left my Padrons. Cutting and lighting one of the beautiful sticks, I took a few delightful puffs, put the cigar into my mouth, and walked back to the living room.
“Voila! Your cigar-smoking daughter.” I took a big drag and dramatically exhaled it in Dad’s direction.
He was not exactly amused. “What the hell . . .”
“Relax dear. Sometimes, as they canlı casino say, a cigar is just a cigar.”
Mom had returned from her bedroom and gave Dad a hug as she spoke.
“It’s not just a cigar when it’s my daughter. What the hell Joanne. People will think you’re some kind of . . .”
It was Mom again.
“Joanne is now a grown woman and she has the right to do anything that she wishes as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. And, by the way, in case you forgot, your other daughter has been smoking cigarettes, with your permission, for some time now.”
I returned the cigar to my mouth and kept it there while continually taking little puffs. I was thoroughly enjoying this.
“And I distinctly remember that when you saw Claudia Shiffer smoking a cigar in that cigar magazine a few years back, you told me that it was the hottest thing that you ever saw. So don’t be so judgmental. Your little girl is grown up now and I know it’s hard for you to see her as a mature woman who is also attractive, but you’ll have to come to grips with it. That’s the way the world works.”
Dad reddened a bit at the mention of Claudia Shiffer, and I was, I admit, a bit chagrined. Wow. Even my dad thinks girls smoking cigars are hot. It must be way more common than I could have imagined.
OK, Joanne. He smiled. If you want to smoke cigars, who am I to stop you. Just try to stick with the more feminine ones. That one you have is more appropriate for . . .”
Mom interrupted again. “George. There you go again. That’s enough. Size is a matter of . . .” She then started giggling, and Dad, though trying not to, laughed too.
“OK Joanne, you win. But if my daughter is a cigar smoker I might have to take them up too. I smoked cigarettes before we were married, but your mother was worried about my health, so I quit. Obviously, she doesn’t think cigars are bad for you, so I may have to give it a try. You know, peer pressure and all that.”
We all laughed.
I took a really big puff and rolled the smoke in my mouth before slowly exhaling it. I moved to Dad’s lap and playfully put the cigar in his mouth.
“You guys are the greatest parents a girl could have. I am soooo happy!”
Dad took his first puff ever of a cigar, inhaled, and broke into a coughing fit. I retrieved the Padron and returned it to my mouth, Mom and I having another good laugh at Dad’s kaçak casino distress. I took another big drag and exhaled, trying to blow smoke rings.
“Maybe you should leave the cigar smoking to the ladies, Mister. Or at least stick to the little ‘masculine’ ones that you men can handle.”
We all laughed again. I was really enjoying my birthday.
After showering and getting dressed, my parents and I hopped into the Honda and headed for La Tratorria for my promised birthday dinner.
“I really wish that Jenny were coming with us, Mom.”
“Your sister had to work tonight honey. You know that. We’ll miss her too, but we’ll all get to be with her later tonight.”
We drove to the restaurant and Dad gave the keys to the man in the parking lot.
After the valet had taken the car, we walked to the back entrance of the restaurant.
“Why aren’t we going in the front door,” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Dad replied. “Let’s just go in this way.”
He led the way and held the door open. It looked dark inside, but Mom went in and I followed.
“Surprise. Happy birthday!!”
I was totally surprised. The back room of the restaurant was filled with my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins, along with many of my friends. And Jenny! Her working had been a ruse to help set up the surprise party. Jenny and I embraced and then I spent the next half hour meeting and greeting everyone before making my way to the “guest of honor” seat at a table in the front of the large, private room.
A wonderful dinner was served and everyone sang happy birthday before I blew out the eighteen candles. My silent birthday wish was for a long lifetime filled with great cigars. I was so happy! The servers cut and then brought pieces of cake to everyone at the tables, and the coffee was also served.
On cue, it seemed, the smokers, including Jenny, began lighting their cigarettes as they poured their coffee, and everyone started to enjoy the dessert hour. I hesitated, wondering whether I should do this. By now, you all know the answer. The hesitation was only for a moment. I pulled out a cigar and prepared it. I toasted the end and put the cigar between my lips and brought it to life. Exhaling the first puff, I almost forgot where I was. Cigars, it seemed, taste even better after a good meal. As I smoked my cigar, I became aware that I was being intently watched by everyone in the room. In the most confident manner that I could muster, I brazenly blew a huge plume of smoke toward the ceiling as I announced, “Why is everyone looking so surprised? I smoke cigars now.”
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